Education, State and Society in South Asia

Education, State and Society in South Asia

Convenor: Dr Uma Pradhan

education state and society image

What is education, and who counts as an ‘educated person,’ amidst competing religious, political and pedagogical ideologies that has shaped contemporary educational practices and institutions in South Asia? How have political transformations, an increasing commodification of education, a continued reliance on foreign aid and expanded geographical horizons contributed to a reshaping of the South Asian educational landscape and thereby altered, opened up and closed avenues of learning available to people?

Through a focus on India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Afghanistan, this course will enable students to critically consider the myriad ways in which education intersects with social and political ideas, institutions, and identities. It will capture diverse and competing educational experiences and trajectories; examine the process of construction and transmission of knowledge in different sites within and beyond institutions of formal education, and explore the interconnections between education, state, and society. These perspectives will shed light on the multiple ways in which processes of education intersect with socio-political ideas, institutions, and identities.

The main aim of the course is to (re-)examine education transformations in the context of larger social and political change, or the lack of it, in the region. The course will also provoke students to think about South Asia as a unique site for theorizing the social and political dynamics of education in the contemporary world.


Take a look at…

  • Levinson, B.A.,  D.E. Foley, and D.C. Holland (eds) 1996. The Cultural Construction of the Educated Person: Critical Ethnographies of Schooling Practice. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Laura Ahearn. 2001. Invitations to Love: Literacy, Love letter and Social change in Nepal. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Patricia Jeffery, R Jeffery, and C Jeffrey. 2014. Islamization, Gentrification and Domestication: ‘A Girls’ Islamic Course' and Rural Muslims in Western Uttar Pradesh. Modern Asian Studies. 38 (1): 1-53
  • Veronique Benei. 2008. Schooling Passions: Nation, History, and Language in Contemporary Western India. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
  • Bradley A U Levinson et al. (ed). 2000. Schooling the Symbolic Animal: Social and Cultural Dimensions of Education. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefeld Publishers.